Qatar 2022 qualifying continued on both sides of the world on Thursday
Important wins for IR Iran & UAE, Australia remain perfect
Colombia and Bolivia shine, Argentina held at home by Chile
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying gathered steam on opposite sides of the globe on Thursday with a massive round of action across Asia and South America.
IR Iran and United Arab Emirates both notably improved their chances with crucial wins. Later in the day there were much-needed victories for Bolivia and Colombia, although Argentina were held 1-1 at home by Chile.
FIFA.com reviews the matchday, with the qualifying action set to resume on Friday in the Concacaf region, while Brazil will host Ecuador.
Bolivia 3-1 Venezuela
Uruguay 0-0 Paraguay
Argentina 1-1 Chile
Peru 0-3 Colombia
SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO, ARGENTINA - JUNE 03: Lautaro Martinez of Argentina makes an attempt to goal during a match between Argentina and Chile as part of South American Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 at Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades on June 03, 2021 in Santiago del Estero, Argentina. (Photo by Agustin Marcarian - Pool/Getty Images)
SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO, ARGENTINA - JUNE 03: Five-meters tall statue of late football legend Diego Maradona is unveiled at Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades ahead of a FIFA Qualifier match between Argentina and Chile on June 03, 2021 in Santiago del Estero, Argentina. (Photo by Agustin Marcarian - Pool/Getty Images)
Bolivia’s star man Marcelo Martins delivered just when it was most needed as the home side claimed their first win of the campaign by seeing off Venezuela. The striker became his nation’s highest scorer in World Cup qualifiers (18), having netted either end of a contest which was evenly poised at 1-1 at the half-time break.
It was far more tense in Montevideo, with neither Uruguay or the visiting Paraguay able to get on the scoresheet. The result keeps the Albirroja unbeaten after five matches, while the two-time World Cup winners are level on points in a congested mid-table.
Chile came away with a hard-won point from a gritty contest in Buenos Aires. Argentina took the lead though a Lionel Messi spot-kick midway through the first half, but ever-reliable veteran Alexis Sanchez drew La Roja level before the break. The result meant La Albicieleste missed the opportunity to take temporary hold of top spot with leaders Brazil not in action until tomorrow.
Colombia were the most impressive victors of the day and gave their campaign a much-needed boost with a 3-0 triumph against Russia 2018 participants Peru. Goals either side of the break did the damage in Lima and allowed Los Cafateros to move up to sixth following on from their horror start to Qatar 2022 qualifying.
Bangladesh 1-1 Afghanistan
IR Iran 3-1 Hong Kong
Bahrain 8-0 Cambodia
Nepal 2-0 Chinese Tapei
Thailand 2-2 Indonesia
United Arab Emirates 4-0 Malaysia
India 0-1 Qatar
Palestine 4-0 Singapore
Australia 3-0 Kuwait
Bangladesh and Afghanistan shared the spoils in Group E. Centre-back Topu Barman grabbed a late equaliser - his first World Cup qualifying goal - to help the hosts secure their second point of the campaign. Elsewhere in Group E, World Cup hosts Qatar edged India 1-0 to extend their lead at the top of the group and to remain unbeaten.
Regular World Cup finals participants IR Iran opened Group C play on the day with a 3-1 victory over Hong Kong. Team Melli were in second place in the group for only a couple of hours before Bahrain thrashed Cambodia 8-0 to leapfrog Iraq into first place. It was Bahrain's second-biggest victory in World Cup qualifying history - their biggest win was in February 2012 when they beat Indonesia 10-0 - giving their goal difference a big boost in an extremely tight race for first.
IR Iran and Hong Kong line up before their World Cup qualifier
IR Iran v Hong Kong, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying
In Group B, Nepal secured a 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei to repeat the result when the two nations met in the reverse fixture back in September 2019. After 567 days, the country's longest spell without taking the field since the early 1960s, Australia returned in style and Mathew Leckie needed just 53 seconds to get on the scoresheet, heading home to kick-start a 3-0 victory against Kuwait. Ajdin Hrustic sealed the win with a brilliant free-kick to give the Socceroos a five-point cushion at the top of the section.
One of the toughest groups to call is Group G. Vietnam still find themselves two points clear at the summit, but the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Malaysia are all on nine points, with Vietnam and the UAE having a game in hand. Thailand will be disappointed with a 2-2 draw against Indonesia, who snapped an 11-match losing streak in World Cup qualifiers as they twice came from behind to get their first point of the campaign. The UAE completed the double over Malaysia in successive World Cup qualifying campaigns in a comfortable 4-0 win.
Palestine and Singapore were the only teams in action in Group D. The Palestinians were impressive and won 4-0 to snap a three-game losing streak and to end a four-game goal drought in World Cup qualifying matches.